the official website for the writings of
ralph robert moore

The full text of Father Figure is now available in new trade paperback and Kindle editions, with a 2015 Author's Preface, and an appendix which includes 6,000 words in deleted scenes.

Father Figure is also available at all other Amazon sites worldwide, and additional online venues. 175,000 words, plus 6,000 words of deleted scenes.

South of Anchorage, accessible only from a mud-rutted road off Seward Highway, lies the town of Lodgepole. After midnight, among the blueberry bushes of White Birch Park, a man climbs on top of a woman and begins making love to her. As her orgasm rises he puts his hands around her throat, shutting off her air. She struggles, not to stop him, but to stop herself from trying instinctively to pull his hands off her throat. As the top joints of his thumb meet at the front of her throat she comes, her cry of orgasm ricocheting around inside her forever.

Daryl Putnam, handsome, bookish, wakes up from a nightmare and decides to do something he hasn't done in years. Take a walk outside at night. Down in the park, at the lime green shores of Little Muncho Lake, he comes across the body of the strangled woman.

The next morning, at the coffee shop of the hospital where he works, Daryl meets Sally, a pretty, dark-haired girl. He's intelligent, she's outgoing. What they have in common is both are living lonely lives. Until today.

Also in the hospital coffee shop, shaking half a can of black pepper onto his tomato soup, is Sam Rudolph, a fiftyish man with eyes like an angry dog's, who has spent over twenty years quietly manipulating events in Daryl and Sally's lives to have this seemingly chance encounter among the three of them occur.

And who is actually a lot older than fifty.

"It is easy to see why Father Figure has become an underground classic over the years. It is a dark, extremely disturbing but completely gripping suspense thriller with a strongly erotic subtext...Moore is an extremely talented writer with a gift for pushing the reader's emotional buttons...certainly liable to become a cult classic, and deservedly so."

From an editorial review

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When someone you love dies, are they gone forever?

Meet the Ghosters, and the desperate people who hire them.

In our modern world, only Ghosters know what comes after death. What stays behind. And what dwells between.

Ghosters are a small, loosely-connected group of individuals who travel the highways of America curing people of their hauntings. For as much money as they can negotiate from each client. They are legitimate. But they are not nice.

Amazon US Trade Paperback and Kindle

Amazon UK Trade Paperback and Kindle

If you're here, it's probably night. You can see a window from where you sit, and the window is dark. Who really knows what's outside?

I write. If you read, we've just made a connection.

SENTENCE is the forest you fall asleep into.

I created SENTENCE back in 1998 as a way of letting readers know a little bit more about me. Here you'll find about a dozen of my stories, the complete text of my novel Father Figure, essays of mine, videos I've made, photographs I've shot, a decade and a half of my on-line diary entries, some of my favorite recipes, and much, much more. I don't fear plagiarism. Ideas can be stolen-- a simile, a description, a plot, a joke-- but that will happen regardless of the medium in which your luggage is left alone on the airport floor. The truth is, fear of plagiarism is fear of readership. To be plagiarized is never fatal. What is more important is to be read. Because if it's in a box, and no one but you knows about the storms raging through the paragraphs, the footsteps plodding soggily down the sentences, water dripping off the rims of words, that's the biggest shame of all. A fizzle. Because the real achievement of writing is not the writing. The real achievement of writing is someone else reading the writing.

SENTENCE started as an island. Over the years, its accumulated bulk, added to each month, became a continent.

Art is an invitation to go inside someone else's mind. To see our world as they see it. SENTENCE is my mind.

I've been published in America, Canada, England, Ireland, India and Australia in a wide variety of genre and literary magazines and anthologies. My fiction has been called "graphically morbid". My writings are not for everyone. Are they for you? Find out.

I'm glad you came. I just lit a cigarette. I just poured Merlot. I hope you enjoy your exploration.

And to see what I'm up to right now, and what currently interests me, visit my page.

Webmaster Ralph Robert Moore at Entire contents Copyright © 1997-2016 by Ralph Robert Moore, All Rights Reserved.

Established January 1, 1998.

To buy my books, please go to BUY MY BOOKS

To see where I've been published, please go to BIBLIOGRAPHY

For samples of my writing style, please go to WORDS WALKING NUDE

For a complete chronology of site updates, please see HISTORY

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"All was chaos, that is, earth, air, water, and fire were mixed together; and out of that bulk a mass formed-- just as cheese is made out of milk-- and worms appeared in it, and these were the angels."

-- Domenico Scandella, 1599 (Two years before being burned at the stake).

just a shell I left behind some bushes
august 1, 2016

It's been a long, long time since I was a little kid. That energy? That confusion? So far back in years and miles in fact I wonder if at my age I were brought to a police station and shown, behind one-way glass, a line-up of little boys who look similar, I'd even be able to identify which one was me.

I shuffle through black and white photographs of me from my early years, playing with my toys in a shallow plastic pool in the backyard, or standing in the small kitchen of my parents' first apartment, dressed like a tiny cowboy, holding fake black guns, grinning like a monkey at the camera, and of course I don't really recognize myself. Even the eyes. That island is too far away by now, below the peach horizon.

Trace your finger across the condensation, and the trail to the left gradually leaves.

If it's better for you, I'm happy for you.

I have photographs of me from grammar school, when I was older, twelve or so, and I know it is me, because I remember looking at those photographs at that time, being either pleased or more likely disappointed at how I looked in that flat moment, I always thought, staring at myself in a mirror those years, which I did a lot, that once I was grown and earning money, the first thing I would do is get plastic surgery to reduce the size of my nose, pull my ears closer to the sides of my head, but flipping through those photographs now, so many experiences later, walking out of the billowing smoke of so much loneliness, joy, disappointment, true love, I no longer know who that guy is. It's just a shell I left behind some bushes.

Even though I don't recognize my face from my early life, I do have memories of those years, certain experiences from way back then are still see-able, big white seashells half-buried under the ocean's green water.

I went to a Catholic grammar school.

So I was raised by nuns. And every day we went through the rote.

Who made me? God made me. Why did God make me? Because He loves me.

And was the Mickey Mouse Club song from my childhood meant as a parody of that? "M-I-C, See you real soon! K-E-Y, Because we like you!"

The Catholic grammar school I went to was St. Mary's Grammar School, located on Greenwich Avenue, the main business district in Greenwich, Connecticut, a rather wealthy town about fifty miles from New York City. I have absolutely no idea how the parish managed to obtain such a prime piece of real estate.

Next to the school was a building for all the nuns, and next to that, a rectory for all the priests. You can imagine the jokes, and there were a lot of them back then, about underground tunnels.

Our playground was a black tar lot behind the school. Essentially, a parking lot without cars. Absolutely no grass or trees. If you want to picture it in your mind, think of the exercise yard in prison movies.

We'd be let out the back door after lunch (which was absolutely hideous, we'd line up cafeteria-style at the counter at the back of the large auditorium, the lunch ladies, old women whose long gray hairs would always wind up in our food, ladling tuna-flavored mayonnaise on a slice of white bread, capping it with another slice), and once we were out in that black-tarred parking lot, pretty much anything was permitted. (Years later, when I was in eighth grade, I started writing my first novel, We the Cursed, in my bedroom each night, then would read the latest chapter to a group of kids after lunch, and that was one of my favorite experiences as a writer, ever, telling what happened next, and getting their immediate reactions.)

All kids, from grade one to grade eight, were poured out into the same hard space.

What I remember most from those early years was when The Ultimate Playground Bully tried to tell me what to do.

Every playground has bullies. But this guy, and I don't remember his name, it's too long ago, was the boy everyone feared. I was in first grade. He was in eighth grade. And even then, bigger than every boy in eighth grade. The nuns didn't discipline him. He could do pretty much anything he wanted. And of course someone who can do anything they want does in fact do anything they want.

So one recess, I'm standing with a couple of my friends by the chain link fence at the edge of the black-tarred playground, we're goofing around, and the ultimate bully comes over and tells me I have to move. This is his spot.

I refuse to.

One of my friends was this kid called Dicky. I won't give his last name, because that wouldn't be a nice thing to do. His father was a cop. Around the Fourth of July his father would confiscate fireworks from town kids and give them to Dicky, to help make him more popular with his friends. One time, while Dicky was over my house for lunch, my mother mentioned she had to pay a parking ticket. Dicky told her his dad would get the ticket cancelled for her, he just needed the ticket number; his dad did it for all his friends' parents. My mother, to her credit, refused the offer, said she'd pay the fine because she had been in the wrong. One time, and only one time, I slept over Dicky's house. He had an older sister, who had made up a song about Jimmy Olsen, a character in the Superman comics, and more specifically in the George Reeves TV show based on the comics; and a younger brother who barely registered. I remember the cabinets in the family's kitchen better than I remember the younger brother. The father, the cop, came home eventually, still wearing his gun, and started to drink. And I mean, he could pour them back. At that point, I had never been in the same room with an adult who drank so much. Dinner kept getting postponed, which after a while I realized was a nightly thing, because the father, also named Richard, hadn't quite had enough hard liquor yet. Big, overweight man, gun still at his waist, stumbling sideways, getting really angry. At what, I had no idea. Starting to get violent. Really loud voice in the small kitchen, raging, where the fury is so turned up it sounds half like shouting, half like sobbing. Palm slapping pots off the stove. Slamming kitchen cabinet doors over and over again like they're the side of someone's skull.

(Years later, I learned Dicky had become a highway patrol officer in a Midwest state.)

So anyway. The ultimate bully is ordering me to move from where I'm standing on the black-tarred playground, and I refuse to, waiting to see what he's going to do next.

Here's what he does next.

He picks Dicky up in his hands. Left hand under Dicky's crotch from behind, lifting him off the black pavement, right hand wrapped around the back of Dicky's neck, so he doesn't wobble.

Hoisting Dicky up in the air, he fucking aims Dicky's mouth at me (Dicky had buck teeth).

Then he throws Dicky across the short space between him and me, like Dicky is a knife, Dicky's front buck teeth smacking into the top of my forehead, cutting deep into the skin.

Dicky bounces backwards off my face onto his ass.

Head wounds produce a lot of blood. My left eye starts blinking, from the blood pouring down into it.

A nun shows up, grabs my wrist, leads me like a dog across the lot, more and more kids turning around to gawk at me, to the rear door of the school. In its reflecting glass I see my face, left side absolutely covered in blood. It's a horror movie.

She pushes me down the stairs to the basement, where the school nurse stayed. The nurse examines me on the small stage down there, used for school recitals, lifting my hair to evaluate the width of the wound. The police were never called, I don't think my parents were even called, and back in those days, the idea that I might need to go to a hospital to get stitches was unheard of. Eventually the bleeding stopped, and I was sent back upstairs to classes.

I don't know what happened to the ultimate bully. I don't remember seeing him in the recess area after that, so it's possible he was suspended, or ran away, or who knows what.

But I honestly hold no grudge against him.

Using another boy's buck teeth as a knife to throw at my forehead? Pretty fucking creative.

And like all of us, I love creativity.

I still carry the scar of his creativity.

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